Goodbye 2013, Hello 2014

by Beth Anne on January 2, 2014

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We rang in the new year with a kitchen counter between us, friends on each side, & pink champagne in our glasses & our little boy tucked into bed at Grandma’s house. Full of birthday cake & frozen sugared cranberries, it was the first New Year’s Eve midnight Doug & I have seen since 2006. We laughed at the ridiculous party hats on our heads & I leaned up for a kiss & we whispered that 2014 would be so much better. My friend Casey wrote on Facebook to wish everyone a hopeful new year, because sometimes hope is even better than happiness when turning a page.

I started 2013 wishing to be fearless & now I remind myself that bravery isn’t necessarily doing new things or conquering old fears, but rather living life without hesitation in the middle of transitions.

Lately my life has been full of transitions, a by-product of my age & stage of life.

When I worked with the senior community, I noticed a distinct shift in clients in their early 80’s. It didn’t happen with everyone, but most, when they began forgetting things they usually remembered, when the personality shift started becoming more abrasive at times, more wistful at others. In a few months time for some, I could go from knowing them well to feeling in the company of a stranger, an older soul, a different shadow than before.

I felt something similar happen when I turned 30 this past summer, as the days grew hotter & longer. I simply wanted good friends over good coffee, a good book, & quietness. Old bitterness fell away. A best friend’s loss was the final word on perspective for me, on how we just need to be kind because damn, there are worse things in life. I began stepping back from this odd social media spotlight. Suddenly, it all seemed less important & I’d stare at my computer, only to walk away for a book or park date or sometimes just more sleep. I turned my Twitter & Instagram private, unpublished my blog’s Facebook page.

My greatest achievement in 2013 was taking a step back.

Standing at the edge of 2014, we face uncertainty but in that flux, there is so much promise. So much of what can be. The biggest obstacle I face is simply how I will approach this year & so for 2014, my word of the year is CHOOSE.

In everything I do this year, in my whole life, I have a choice. I can choose to be hopeful or I can choose to let fear take over. I choose how I spend my time, my money, my thoughts.  I choose how I treat my body & how I treat others. I choose what words I put on this blog. I promise to be more aware of those choices, to keep the word at the forefront of everything I do this year.

May 2014 hold great hope for you as well.

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Santa came with love this year, quietly unpacking with whispers & a moment of collapsing on the couch to stare at the tree. By the fireplace laid Harrison’s coveted “carries cars monsters trucks”, aka a car carrier with monster trucks. He’s been asking for it for months, spending minutes & hours staring in the Target aisles, along with an ambulance & tow truck for his little Imaginext city. He then asked me if Santa shopped at Target & I’m worried we’ve got a Beth Anne 2.0 on our hands (I informed my mother at the age of 5 that I absolutely could not believe in Santa. Too bad, so sad).

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There were moments of doubt, where I looked at his small pile & wondered if we should have, could have, would have done more. There were pangs of jealousy looking through Instagram feeds full of expensive gifts & massive piles. On Christmas morning, I opened a book I’ve wanted since its release & Harrison gave Doug a new tie for interviews but there were moments where my breaths came too fast, where I let the anxiety take over the magic of Christmas.

There’s horrible, honest guilt in those feelings, felt beside a lit Christmas tree with a happy son & beautiful home. Callaway clubs & Tiffany boxes do not make Christmas, but rather a small boy that had to be wakened at 8am because he laid awake late into the night, listening for jingle bells. In those brief moments of feeling inadequate, I remembered Harrison & his Matchbox cars on the church pew the night before while we lifted candles high in the air.

Simple happiness is a balm for anxiety & can be found everywhere. I just have to take the blinders off & keep my eyes open.

After our little family of three opened gifts, we drove to my parent’s house for gifts & breakfast & stayed through dinner. To me, Christmas is simply better with family although there were moments when I craved to be in my own home all day. I wonder if that feeling will grow stronger over the years.

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Harry took this picture of me after dinner while we were pulling out dessert & scrubbing china plates. I want him to remember me this way on Christmas Day, encouraging wild silliness. I want to remember that moment he giggled when Doug kissed me under the mistletoe with a laugh. I want to remember my little sister’s face when she saw the powder blue retro bike my parents bought her. & I really want to remember to put 1/3 more sour cream in the mashed potatoes from now on because YUM.

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I look at these pictures & my heart explodes. Despite my excessive navel-gazing, despite my flaws, Harrison found the real joy in the day.

I think that’s what makes four-year-olds the best.

We hope you had a beautiful, wonderful Christmas. May the coming days be filled with rest & hope for the new year.

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Yesterday Harrison & I strung lights through the bushes & trees, but only after I helped him climb the tree. He thinks it is beautiful. Looks like he’s on his dad’s side of colored lights being superior.

Today we made Christmas cookies. I remember my mother combining flour & sugar & rolling out the dough in an apron & then my brothers & I sat around the kitchen table with frosting & sprinkles. Instead, I bought bags of Pillsbury mix, the kind where I just added butter & an egg. Harry spent the entire day begging me to make treats, but then he ran outside to play with the neighbors while I floured a rolling pin.

That’s how a four year old will do you, I guess.

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I’m doing Christmas as best I can this year with a son that is so excited, that believes in magic, who really wants to see Santa’s reindeer & keeps asking if Santa will have a sleepover with him on Christmas Eve.

I’m doing Christmas this year tired, worn down to my bones. I had a big “win” at work (can I say that without sounding like a humblebrag ass? why does it feel awkward to admit that?) which has required a lot of hours & creativity. I may have fallen asleep with my head in Doug’s lap this afternoon. Tonight we’re watching Elf right now with a pizza in the oven (Zooey in New Girl > Zooey in Elf, personal opinion). Harry is literally running in circles screaming. The Christmas tree is lit & it is raining & we’re just the three of us, tucked away from the rest of the world.

Two full days until Christmas. I hope this finds you somewhere with your loved ones, too.

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When fifteen years are the blink of an eye.

by Beth Anne on December 17, 2013

Last Friday night, I drove by the local high school and saw the floodlights on full, drenching the football field in harsh light. Windows open & my ponytail brushing against my cheek, I remembered back when I stood on the track with pompoms and hundreds of eyes on me. Where all that I held important smelled like cut grass and sweat and wild dreams, where I scanned the bleachers for the boy that gave me my first kiss and halftime tasted like bagels and Capri Sun. I can’t believe it’s been 15 years when it still feels like yesterday if I close my eyes long enough.

When I turned 30 this past summer, I laughed because I’m still that girl that daydreams & prefers to write in pencil & would rather spend Friday night at home. As a teenager, I thought 30 was beyond my reach with it’s minivans & paychecks & tucking little ones into bed at night but here I am, thick in the middle of life. Here I am, paying a mortgage & trying to hide motherhood’s curves under forgiving tops & wondering how in the world I got here so quickly.

My own mother says that when she closes her eyes, she still feels 16 even though her hands & the wrinkles around her smile tell the decades she’s lived since then. She can still feel the gears of her cherry red Mustang & my father on one knee with a diamond in Okinawa & when she looks in the mirror, she still sees the same girl from her Senior year book.

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p.s. wrote this on October 1 & never pushed publish.

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Marley-ish & me.

by Beth Anne on December 9, 2013

It’s winter-cold in North Carolina & while it feels like a heat-wave to our northern neighbors, we’re wearing wool coats & gloves & watching for black ice on the bridges. The constant drizzle of rain makes it feel even more cold, the damp that gets down under my skin until all I can think about is a pile of blankets & a pair of Doug’s old sweatpants.

Walking out to my car this morning, I balanced my laptop bag & cup of coffee & my lunch, consisting of leftovers that Harrison refused to eat. Monday, my constant nemesis. So we meet again.

Two minutes from the office with Christmas carols through the speakers, I saw a dog with a collar loping along the side of the busy road, mud up to his elbows, headed towards the 8-lane highway. I dismissed him at first & within moments, found myself spinning a tight U-turn. No dog should be out in this cold, in this rain, on the side of a busy commuter road. I pulled up beside him & propped open the passenger door, whistled & he hopped in.

I don’t know what got into me, either. I didn’t have a plan & I didn’t know what I was doing. I just knew this dog belonged to someone.

 

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A collar but no tags.

I found the closest vet office & grabbing his collar, took him into warmth. They put a leash on him, wiped him down, & scanned him for a microchip & he wagged his tail & try to put his big paws on the chest of the vet tech. I asked if they could keep him while I located his owner, but they couldn’t. So I sat beside him in my cold garage, working with my laptop on the lid of a trashcan while he cried & rested on a blanket.

I knew it wasn’t a long-term solution. I spoke to friends that work with rescues & foster & they all advised the same – take him to the County shelter. It’s where owners look first. Put out something on Facebook, call the lab rescues & SPCA in case nobody claims him. He seemed to be a young purebred – his chances of adoption are fantastic.

It was a sucker-punch to walk into the County shelter, even with a dog I only knew for a few hours. I don’t know how owners give up their pets willingly; my own hand shook as I signed over this boy & gave them my information. “How long do we have?” I asked.

Friday, December 13th. 

Three full days to find his owner, or find a rescue that can take him, or to go back & get him myself.

Maybe I did the right thing. Maybe I did the wrong thing.

But he deserves to belong to somebody.

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UPDATE: He’s home with his family! Thank you to everyone that shared his story & picture. So thankful for a happy ending.

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